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The messenger should remain un-shot after you read about Hachimura’s statistical doppelgängers

2020 Tokyo Olympics: Argentina v Japan
Wizards forward Rui Hachimura.
Photo by Stephen Gosling/NBAE via Getty Images

When it comes to Rui Hachimura’s statistical doppelgängers, I come bearing bad news.

Late last season, I recall much ballyhoo about the progress he was making. In my analysis, he was actually less productive than he was as a rookie. While I thought his on-ball defense was modestly improved, his usage, efficiency, rebounding, assists, and steals all fell a bit.

For a player whose primary value is on the offensive end, the simultaneous decline in usage and efficiency is worrisome. As a rookie, he was about average in efficiency with an 18.8% usage. In year two, his usage dropped to 17.3% and his efficiency was more than five points per 100 possessions below average.

If you want to bright side things, he shot better from the floor, and much of his efficiency drop was worse shooting on free throws. And, his defensive rebounding rate was better when Russell Westbrook wasn’t on the floor.

Don’t go too far with “bright siding” though. The most similar player season to his 2020-21 performance was himself in 2019-20. This suggests he was basically the same player, but not quite as good. The other comps aren’t the sort to get anyone excited.

Also, for the love of basketball gods and my blood pressure, could folks stop comparing Hachimura to Kawhi Leonard? Leonard’s closest match to last season’s Hachimura ranks 256th. Here’s a quick comparison of PPA progressions for Hachimura and Leonard (PPA is my overall production metric. In PPA, 100 is average and higher is better):

Hachimura:

  • 95
  • 75

Leonard

  • 160
  • 165
  • 202
  • 217
  • 263
  • 238
  • 238 (just 9 games due to injury)
  • 237
  • 243
  • 238

In other words, Leonard is yet to have a season as bad as Hachimura’s best — at least so far.

Reminder: The Statistical Doppelgänger Machine works by comparing a player’s performance across 14 different categories that include age, playing time, pace-neutral box score stats and scores from my PPA metric. All that’s rolled up into a single score that (in theory) provides a list of NBA players since 1977-78 with similar production at a similar age.

Hachimura’s comps:

  1. Wesley Person, Phoenix Suns, 1995-96 — This was Person’s second season, and it was a actually a down year for him. He posted a 111 PPA as a rookie, and bounced back to notch five average or better seasons over an 11-season career. His career peak was a 150 PPA at age 26 — two years after this comp season.
  2. Cedi Osman, Cleveland Cavaliers, 2018-19 — Ugh. This was year two for Osman. He had a 72 PPA, which he bested with a 77 the following season. That’s his high water mark so far.
  3. Desmond Mason, Seattle Supersonics, 2001-02 — Year two for Mason. He had an 80 PPA, which he followed with a 121. Then back to the 80s until his production cratered at age 28.
  4. Jarvis Hayes, Washington Wizards, 2004-05 — Oof. A 62 PPA in his second season, then a career-best 77 in an injury-filled third year — he managed just 21 games. After that, basically replacement level until the league gave up on him at age 28.
  5. Wilson Chandler, New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets — Traded midway through the season, Chandler posted a 96 PPA in this, his third season. A couple years later, he peaked at age 25 with a 99 PPA.
  6. Ryan Gomes, Boston Celtics, 2006-07 — Gomes started his career reasonably well — PPAs of 113, 96 (the comp season) and 119. Then he progressively got worse.
  7. P.J. Washington, Charlotte Hornets, 2019-20 — Key difference between the two: Washington shoots lots more threes (and better).
  8. Martell Webster, Portland Trail Blazers, 2007-08 — Webster was okay when he stayed healthy, which was rare. This was year two. In year three, he managed one game. His pinnacle was a 114 PPA five years later in Washington, which he parlayed into a nice contract. Then he got hurt again and his career came to an abrupt halt.
  9. Khris Middleton, Milwaukee Bucks, 2014-15 — After a replacement level rookie year, the Detroit Pistons traded Middleton and someone called Viacheslav Kravtsov to the Bucks for Brandon Jennings. Jennings was actually decent for Detroit over a couple seasons, but Middleton blossomed into an All-Star, who played at an All-NBA level in 2019-20. Dream scenario for Hachimura and the Wizards.
  10. Harrison Barnes, Golden State Warriors, 2015-16 — The quintessential average forward. Barnes was an accurate, albeit somewhat unwilling three-point shooter. His best season was a 132 PPA with the Warriors in 2014-15. He almost got back there with a 126 last season. Generally, he’s between 90 and 110. Not bad, not good, average.

Poll

Who’s next through the Doppelgänger Machine?

This poll is closed

  • 71%
    Raul Neto
    (71 votes)
  • 29%
    Anthony Gill
    (29 votes)
100 votes total Vote Now